NFL 2017 Preseason Camp Battles
As the season approaches, many jobs are determined by training camp performances. Like every other year, we have players fighting for a roster spot, backup roles, and in some instances starting jobs. These players will have a shot to prove themselves and show off their skills in preseason games. For those playing DFS, these are situations to keep a close eye on. Players who will receive touches and be on the field a significant portion of the game are the ones you want to roster. Let’s take a look below at some battles that could open up some playing time for some of these players.
Cincinnati Bengals Running Backs
The Bengals exhausted a second round pick on Joe Mixon and so far it has been nothing but positive buzz surrounding him. He is expected to have a large role on this offense and receive the bulk of the workload. Giovanni Bernard has made great progress coming off of ACL surgery and will be fighting for some touches in the backfield, but his role will likely be in passing-down situations. Jeremy Hill will also be competing for touches, but is currently projected to fall behind Mixon and listed as the third back on the depth chart. The team knows what they have in Bernard and Hill, so Mixon could be a busy back during preseason games. Although, Hill should still see his share of opportunities in preseason games as the team needs to decide what his role will be. Bernard may be eased in as he is coming off of ACL surgery, which leaves some extra touches for all the other backs on this roster.
Kansas City Chiefs Running Backs
Here is another backfield with some competition where a rookie is currently the favorite to have the biggest impact on this team. Kareem Hunt was drafted by the Chiefs in this year’s draft and initial reports are suggesting that he is picking up the offense quickly. There have also been reports that he is doing well as a pass catcher. He has what it takes to be a three-down back, and could receive plenty of opportunities this preseason. Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, and C.J. Spiller will be battling with Hunt for snaps heading into the season, so by no means is Hunt guaranteed anything. Ware is currently listed as the starting back, but things could certainly change.
Pittsburgh Steelers Running Backs
We are all well aware that this is Le’Veon Bell’s backfield, but the backup position is up for grabs. Rookie James Conner is considered the favorite for the backup position, but he is currently dealing with a shoulder injury that can keep him sidelined for some time, including the first preseason game. This should open the door for Knile Davis and Fitzgerald Toussaint to get some extra work and try to get the backup role. This is certainly a situation to keep a close eye on because if they are thin at the position for preseason games, it will be easier to predict who will receive carries and snaps.
Houston Texans Quarterbacks
Tom Savage and DeShaun Watson are competing for the starting job in Houston; Savage is the current favorite to be the starter in Week 1, but Watson will get every opportunity this preseason to make a case for himself. After all, the Texans drafted Watson at No. 12 overall so they have high hopes for the rookie. Ultimately, this will likely be Watson’s offense at some point this season and so far there have been nothing but positive reports about him.
Chicago Bears Quarterbacks
I am almost certain that everyone was scratching their heads on draft day when the Bears selected Mitchell Trubisky second overall after giving Mike Glennon a 3-year $45 million deal this offseason, with $16 million guaranteed. They also signed Mark Sanchez, who is expected to serve as a backup. Glennon is currently listed as the starter and should be under center in Week 1 of the regular season, while the Bears groom Trubisky as their future quarterback. This is still a situation to keep a close eye on because things can certainly change and a strong preseason from either of these quarterbacks could have an impact in what happens in Week 1.
Chicago Bears Wide Receivers
Cameron Meredith is expected to be the Bears top receiver, but the No. 2 receiver spot is up for grabs. Kevin White has been unable to stay healthy in his young career and the bears added several receivers that could make this an interesting battle to watch this preseason. Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, and veteran Victor Cruz all have a lot to prove and will be playing these next few weeks for a solidified role on this offense.
Tennessee Titans Wide Receivers
The Titans added Eric Decker this offseason and drafted Corey Davis, adding two weapons to their team. They also have second year receiver Tajae Sharpe who had a solid rookie campaign. In addition, they have Rishard Matthews who is coming off of a career-year in his first season with the Titans. Matthews is the team’s No. 1 receiver at this time, with Decker and Davis battling it out for the No. 2 receiver duties. Decker is having a strong camp, while Sharpe and Davis are both sidelined with injuries. Both of them could miss some games in the preseason, so players such as Taywan Taylor, Harry Douglas, and Eric Weems could see plenty of snaps early in the preseason.
Other situations to monitor
Raiders’ backfield – Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington
Redskins’ backfield – Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine
Packers’ backfield – Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams
Panthers’ backfield – Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey
Dolphins’ backfield – Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake
Vikings’ backfield – Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook
Seahawks’ backfield – Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls
Patriots’ backfield – Mike Gillislee, James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead
Broncos quarterbacks – Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch
Browns quarterbacks– Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler, and DeShone Kizer
Bills No. 2 receiver – Zay Jones, Andre Holmes, Rod Streater, and Walt Powell
Panthers’ receivers – Devin Funchess and Curtis Samuel
Preseason is difficult to predict because there are many variables, however, knowing certain battles for positions and situations on teams can help you make better decisions when creating your lineups. I’ll be writing some articles for the preseason slates, but wanted to provide a starting point as to certain circumstances that can lead to possible playing time.
Feel free to follow me on twitter @Armando_Marsal for any questions or you can always find me on slack chat.